It’s been a while since I got into debate with someone on the internet. I guess you could say it’s long overdue. We’re all passionate about things and one trait of mine, that I think is a good one, is that I ask questions. I question even the things I think I know. Asking questions is how we gain perspective and understanding. But, I learned that not everyone wants you to ask questions…

Photo Credit: A More Beautiful Question

Shallow Activism

It all started with this text:
No tribe.
No g*psy.
No gangsta.
No bae.
No fleek.
No yassss Queen.
No woke.
I could go on and on.
For fuck’s sake, for lots of people (ahem, w h i t e), this is not language that is yours to use and appropriate. Stop your white thievery and entitlement to everything that is not yours to claim. Consider yourself informed now. Change. Here’s a free tip: google (it’s free) the words AAVE and Romani Holocaust if you have any questions. You’ll learn a lot, and from this I hope you change for the better. I’m not debating the content of this post, so keep your comments respectful.

My initial thoughts…
1. What a randomly curated list of words…
2. Gypsy is a racial slur… so if anyone is using that, they’re an asshole
3. Gangsta is an alteration/derivative of Gangster which refers to a member of a gang of criminals
4. Tribe is: a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.
5. Bae, Fleek, and Woke are slag/AAVE (African American vernacular english)
6. Yas Queen was started by the gay community
7. “Consider yourself informed.” — there’s nothing informative about this post
8. ‘I’m not debating the content of this post.” — This is dismissive and passive aggressive
9. This seems extremely emotionally charged

The beautiful thing about language is that it’s shared. Our words have origins from all over the world. I believe that brings a level of connectedness, so to say certain people can’t use certain words creates a divide… the very thing they are working to stop. So, I started with why this wasn’t up for debate or discussion. I truly wanted to know her ‘why’ behind such a emotionally charged post and start a dialog. I was quickly told to google or look at her resource list, which was available after I put in my email address… no, thanks. I continued to ask questions, respectfully, because I really wanted to understand her message. I was accused of shaming her, gaslighting a biracial woman, and being a self-righteous white supremacist by her and her followers. I was SHOCKED. How did we get here? If you’re white or light skinned and ask a question you’re part of the problem? I was confused… Was this group that considers themselves feminist, activist, and spiritual leaders really vilifying an entire group? ie. white women. That’s a horrible approach to unity. Were they really fighting racism with more racism?

For a group of mostly white women touting racial equality, justice and inclusion, they looked at my profile picture and judged me by the color of my skin. I’m hispanic. My father is a political refugee from Cuba. My mother’s side of the family is from Spain. I explained that although I don’t look like a minority, I am one. Then, they started using the term “white passing” as a means to continue to invalidate my questions and concerns. The funny thing was, the woman who posted it, although biracial could be described as “white passing” as well. (And the next day, when I found out that she was Irish, Chinese, and Indonesian, my brain almost exploded) But, for some reason, she was placed on a pedestal. She was better than me. She has all the answers for all injustices for every race and group and how dare I question her. I had about 6 different white women talk at me about how I need to look inside myself and how I needed to do work. I don’t respect boundaries. I’m entitled. I’m triggered.

**Quick aside. It makes my blood boiled when people throw around words like gaslighting, triggered, shaming, etc. They’re serious things and shouldn’t be thrown around casually.

I started looking at the profiles of all the women that were flying at me sideways. What I found were radical feminists and pseudo spiritual leaders. All of which spouted the same “do this” “follow me” “I’ve done research” rhetoric but had nothing personal or unique to share. Posts and comments contained many words, yet lacked substance. It’s what I refer to as forced intellectualism… big, flowery words strung together with little cohesion and no clear point or message. “Dismantle the divide”? That’s just bad writing…

Why aren’t they talking about the things that personally affect the groups they belong to? Why aren’t they trying to make things right for the indigenous people in Australia? Is American black/gay/native culture really their cross to bear? I get being an ally, but why are they making the oppression of other groups their own? It was all quite strange and days later, I’m still baffled by some of it. This opened my eyes to a new problem… shallow activism. An activist should have a personal story to tell. Lighting fires without context is dangerous and manipulative. Some will fall for it, yet, anyone with critical thinking skills will ask “why” and that simple question will back these leaders into a corner because they do not know their ‘why’, they’re just regurgitating what someone else told them.


I Wasn’t the Only Sane Person in the Room. Thank God.

A fun thing to see was to see an actual drag queen give her the history of “yas queen” and flat out tell her it was never her word to worry about; that it’s meant to be inclusive and positive. I thought to myself, there is no way she can tell someone who is from the community that “owns” the word to piss off… but she did.

“Seems like this is the first time you’ve commented here. Not that it is any of your business, I’m biracial. I’ve done extensive research. Thanks for explaining everything to me. I feel so well informed now that you’ve come here.”

If that response blows your mind, don’t worry, it blows my mind every time I reread it. What makes this woman such an authority on seemingly everything? My favorite new queen responded back, respectfully, with a little more history and a video so that she could continue her journey and education of the things she preaches. She blocked him.

Here is the video: Paris Is Burning Original Theatrical Trailer

I received numerous private messages from a few of her followers. We had beautifully intelligent conversations about what transpired and the ways you really make the world change. We all landed on this… You don’t need to pay an instagram activist to teach you about racism, especially for and about the groups that they don’t even belong. You shouldn’t have to give your email in exchange for a resource list. This all comes off as opportunist. ‘I’m going to make money off of my pseudo spiritual radical feminist racial activism because all of these things are really trendy right now.” There are books. There is google. But what’s better? Having a direct conversation with the races and groups that are disenfranchised.


Open Dialog Between 2 Friends

I had tagged my friend Nathalie in the post because I wanted the perspective of a black woman. How do YOU feel about these words being used by white people or anyone that isn’t black? Again… I seek numerous perspectives. Always. One of the followers asked me why I tagged someone. I explained, simply, that she’s one of my best friends and she’s black. I want her opinion. Here’s her response back…

“I thought that’s what you would say. That’s interesting in that you can’t just listen to {Original Poster} (who is also not white) it’s like saying, ‘I can say (insert offensive word) because my friend is ______’ Does that make sense? And we also know white feminism is not jus something that white women practice.”

Let’s break that down.
1. I’m supposed to take the opinion of the original poster as gospel
2. Even though the original poster is Irish and Asian, her whiteness is completely overlooked
3. Tagging my black friend for perspective is the same as using the N-word
4. Now white feminism doesn’t just pertain to white women?… they really wanted to paint me with the same brush so badly…

My friends and I are like a United Colors of Benetton ad. We come from all walks of life, races, and religions. We’re able to talk openly talk about each other’s struggles in society as well as appreciate cultures other than our own. We are openminded and are passionate about keeping the dialogue going and accepting everyone as an equal. So, after this debacle my friend Nathalie suggested meeting up and talking about it –“so internet activists don’t come at you sideways.”

Nathalie and I chatted about how insanely odd the whole thing was, but was also talked the history of slavery, and about all the terms they were throwing at me. White Gaslighting, White Tone Policing, White Righteousness, White Passing… She explained to me how the terms came to be and why, she also explained that I actually didn’t do any of those things. These words are very real, very serious things that in one way or another invalidate and intimidate people.  She showed a few videos from The Grapevine TV to help further explain what they really mean and how it makes POC feel when it happens.

I loved the roundtable conversations and it opened my eyes to so many thing. Dark skin v. Light skin. How Biracial people are perceived. Perceived blackness and perceived whiteness. And a plethora of other social problems that arise in subcultures. I was learning all of these things because my friend took the time to have a conversation with me. I was learning because groups of people decided to film roundtable discussions about all the topics that pertain to them. They didn’t always agree with each other, but they were open to the perspectives, opinions, and conversations. I was learning because there was a conversation.

Nathalie and I continued the conversation by discussing if the words and terms we use create more racism or division. We need to be able to describe things, and unfortunately, words can be used as either a shield or a sword. At this point, I’m not sure there is much we can do about that, however, it shouldn’t stop anyone from getting educated. To undo history, we need to learn it.


Self-Reflection

No one is perfect and life is a constant journey of shifts and transformations. My approach to life is to never stop asking questions. Never stop learning. Do all things through love. Find beauty and gratitude in every day. Give if and when you can. I’m very understanding, empathic, and compassionate. I love talking to people and starting conversations no matter how challenging. When people ask me questions on my blog, whether it’s about body issues, mental health, or cooking, I will always respond. But, I do remember a time that I was not open to the conversation….

I took the time in the last few days to think about if I ever tried to silence someone and sell my word as bible. I truly believe that the future is female and while have male allies is nice, we are capable of doing the damn thing on our own. So, when I’ve started posts geared toward females, I have shut down men from the joining the conversation. I shouldn’t have done that, because I’ve denied someone knowledge and perspective of something I live. It’s something I acknowledge as a flaw in myself, but also an opportunity to continue to learn, grow, and be more inclusive.

I also realize that my lack of tan means I’ve benefitted from white privilege and that I will continue to be lumped into the “white women are the problem” group even though I am the daughter of a minority. There’s nothing I can do about that other than speak my truth and put my money where my mouth is. In my heart, I believe that I can help shift the way people think. Your feelings and thoughts are valid, but so are the feelings and thoughts of the person next to you. We have to stop invalidating and vilifying; acknowledge that these issues exist far and wide. This shift requires conversation, so let’s start talking.

To be continued…

**This post serves as an icebreaker. It poses big questions to bigger issue.  It’s important to talk about these things across all races, genders, and social groups. It’s imperative to start digging into the history of all these injustices– What caused all these issues to exist in the first place, and now, how are we’re going to dismantle them.